Why You Should NOT Try To Be Perfect

As a recovering perfectionist who still has perfectionist tendencies I noticed myself putting pressure on myself to be, well, perfect (*gasp*) – hah. What a surprise! Not. I once would have never known the destruction that striving to be perfect can do to your body, as I was much more disconnected from my body back in the day. Now, with years of harnessing a better mind-body connection, I can feel things in my body, like little whispers and louder alarm bells, that I would never have felt before. Hearing little whispers and alarm bells are so valuable as they are much less damaging to your body than waiting for Niagra to crash down (chronic pain!!!!). Practice to hear for these quieter signals and you won’t need chronic pain to pop up and tell you what’s up. 🙂

Watch my video below to see how I deal with perfection popping up in my life!

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My Mind-Body Retreat and Error in Mental Code

Although I stayed at a beautiful Bed and Breakfast for my personal retreat, I did feel a bit like a traveling hobo for the majority of it. Checking in at 4pm and checking out at 11am the next day left me pretty much homeless for the majority of my two-day retreat. This wouldn’t have worked out well had Vancouver lived up to its standards of being cold and rainy, but luckily I snagged the two most gorgeous days we have yet to see this year! The Universe must have known, and I was taken care of!

At 10am on Sunday I started up the old VW to head for North Vancouver. I arrived at my destination just before 11am, which meant I had over five hours to enjoy the good old outdoors before checking into the B&B. That’s five hours of sunshine to wilt and spoil the chicken spinach salad that I packed with good intentions.

I enjoyed these hours outside in the sunshine, walking down to Lonsdale Quay and perching in a few different places to read. How relaxing it was to bask in the sunshine, listen to some live music, and watch families and birds hustle and bustle around while I lay on a bench with a captivating book and nowhere to be. I usually scoff at those lazy loiterers out of jealousy, and now I was one of them! I even had an seventy-something year old man pass by me and say, “Taking it easy, I see?” Wow, you know you are engaging in some hardcore relaxation when a retiree is jealous of YOUR lack of urgency!

I walked all 29 blocks back to the B&B when it was time to check in. After a homemade latte, a chocolate chip cookie, and a nice chat with the owner, I nestled nicely into my luxurious suite. I sat on the bed. No phone, no internet, no connection to anything or anyone but myself and the room. I stared at the walls for a few moments. Is that a Hanna Banana or a Golden Fields colour on the walls? I couldn’t decide. More staring. And then it sets in.

Heaviness. Emptiness. Loneliness. Ah, I knew you would show up. I anticipated this happening, and it was partly the reason I chose to retreat at the time I did. I started realizing just how uncomfortable I was being all by myself a few months ago just after my long-term relationship had ended and another one hadn’t begun. Now, I think of myself as a fairly independent woman, and I love to do things on my own, but I’ve always had a boyfriend that I knew was there for me when I was done being, well, independent. My patterns of jumping from long-term relationship to long-term relationship are clear, and I know now that what I need is exactly the opposite of a long-term relationship, which is extremely uncomfortable and scary for me, a girl who hasn’t really been on her own for more than 6 months at a time since she was 15. And guess what. I have now hit that 6 month mark, and instead of searching for my next beau, it’s time for me to change the typo in my mental coding and search deeper within myself.

Martha Beck talks about mental misprints and correcting the code of your imagination in her newest book “Finding Your Way in a Wild New World”. She says to let your suffering, or area of lowest satisfaction, point out the errors in the code of your imagination by noticing what you think and specifically feel about this problem that is causing you to suffer. After feeling the extreme heaviness and emptiness in my heart and chest, and noticing what thoughts were racing around in my brain in regards to this feeling of loneliness, I isolated the thought that made me feel the worst, and in doing that, I isolated the typo in the computer code of my imagination. The typo that reads something like, “I’ll be alone forever if I haven’t found him yet”, which I absolutely cannot know to be true, as I have not lived forever yet to prove this thought right.

If you are reading this and are instead experiencing some sort of chronic pain in your life, and you have the thought, “I’m going to be in pain forever”, that is YOUR typo in your computer code of imagination. I once had that thought in my mental code, and it wasn’t until I corrected that code and started thinking thoughts like “My body is just out of balance right now, and it will get better” and “This pain is just here to tell me something important” that I actually got better and started living without pain. And, you tell me, which of those thoughts sounds the truest? I hope you tell me the latter two, because we cannot know if we’ll be in pain next year, next month, or even tomorrow.

So if I’m walking around and entering relationships with the fearful thought of “I’ll be alone forever if I haven’t found him yet” or “I’ll be alone forever if this one is not the one”, how am I supposed to build a healthy relationship with that thought looming around? What might that look like? Here’s a little visualization for you. Picture a toddler grabbing at her mommy’s leg and holding on for dear life in fear that her mom will get sucked into some sort of grocery store vortex and never come back. Yep. That about sums it up.

So there are two things I know deep down that I need to do next. Correct that damn code, first of all, which will allow me to get completely comfortable being on my own. And second of all, instead of focusing on building a relationship with someone else, I am going to focus on building a deeper relationship with myself. Because, after all, if I’m not even willing to enjoy my own company, how can I expect someone else to?

And you, with the physical pain, maybe the good old hoo-ha kind, check out what that thought “I’m going to be in pain forever” is creating in your life. First and foremost, it’s definitely increasing the pain by throwing you in to the fight-or-flight response. And it’s most definitely causing you to live in a way that is not conducive to your essential, authentic self and to your healing. Instead of my graspy energy I put out into relationships, maybe this thought causes fear which stops you from doing the things you love to do because you’re scared that the pain will get worse if you do them. The funny thing is, when you STOP doing the things you love, the pain DOES get worse because you aren’t letting your body and soul sing like they want to.

So, for me, I’m going to work on my computer code and get comfortable with entering my next relationship; the one with myself. Because I know in my soul that that is the work that I am meant to do right now.

And for all you Sex and the City lovers out there, Carrie Bradshaw says, “The most exciting, challenging and significant relationship of all is the one you have with yourself.” And I agree.

You’re Right, I’m Right, We’re Alright?

“Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.” – Henry Ford

If this was the only thing you learned for the rest of your life, well, you could live a fantastic or a miserable life. It could really go either way…

The truth is, we humans, are so darn intelligent and stubborn, that we will do our darnedest to prove ourselves right, no matter what. If I tell myself that it will be too hard to build myself a thriving and enriching coaching business, then it will be too hard to build myself a thriving and enriching business, and I won’t. If you tell yourself that you are overweight because you just don’t have the energy to do anything about it, then you won’t have the energy to do anything to change being overweight, and you’ll be overweight. If you tell yourself that your chronic pain won’t ever go away, (enter fight or flight response…eeek!) then your chronic pain won’t go away. It is these beliefs that we have either consciously or sub-consciously that creates the life we are living. We are constantly trying to prove ourselves right with the thoughts we tell ourselves, whether we know it or not. Our lives are a direct result of what we are thinking and believing.

I recently attended a brilliant business seminar where they talked a lot about intentions. The speaker made an extremely eye-opening, yet obvious, statement. He stated with full-on confidence that most peoples’ intentions are this: to avoid discomfort. I noticed my head silently nodding as if he had just asked us to all stand up and “Give me an Amen!” and I harmoniously sang “AMEN!!”  My breathing just about stopped when he said this. Seriously, Meghan? Ah shit. This was still an intention I was holding on to. Well, good to know, I guess! And just as fast as the self-pressure started to weigh me down, it lightened up and went away. I had a new-found awareness.

So, if it is the majority of peoples’ intentions to avoid discomfort, it makes sense that we are all hustling and bustling (comfortably, of course) through our lives without accomplishing the things that our hearts yearn to accomplish. If I’m dragging my intention, “to avoid discomfort”, around with me, and my heart yearns to build a successful and enriching coaching business, I probably won’t, because it involves being extremely uncomfortable at times, which will be challenging (circling back to the initial thought: “It will be too hard…”). If you want to lose weight, and your deep-seated intention is to avoid discomfort, you probably won’t want to haul your arse to the gym and spend 30 uncomfortable minutes gasping on the treadmill. This cycles back to the original thought that you don’t have the energy to do anything about it, because you’re too dang comfortable sitting on the couch lightly exercising your arms into the bag of Cheetos, and the thought of breaking a sweat just doesn’t seem quite as comfortable! And if you are one of the many people dealing with chronic pain…as uncomfortable as the pain feels, it actually is probably more comfortable to continue thinking the same negative thought patterns, to keep suppressing emotions instead of learning how to feel those uncomfortable suckers like anger, sadness, etc., and to stay at the same job, in the same marriage, etc. than to uproot and investigate your life, both internally and externally, so you can see what’s really going on. Whoa, nelly! Can we say UNCOMFORTABLE!? Yep, the chronic pain ain’t going anywhere, just as you originally hoped for.

Look at us intelligent beings proving ourselves right all the time! What a clever species! It’s almost as if we are too stubborn to fail, even if the outcome is not exactly or not close to what we want at all. Well, at least we’re right, right?

The Decoy Dance

It’s 10:34pm on Thursday night and I, just now, am sitting down to write my blog post for Friday (tomorrow)!!! I probably shouldn’t admit that there are about five more things that I want to accomplish before I settle in to bed! “Where did the last 4 hours go?” I ask myself, a bit frustrated that yet another night has escaped me.

“Where did the time go?”

Does this same question pop into your head more than you would like it to?

For example:

Do you ever plan an hour of yoga into your evening and notice that it’s 11pm and you haven’t even rolled out your mat yet? “Where did the time go?” Do you choose to eat salty or sweet (or both) snacks instead of returning important phone calls? “Oh my, it’s already 10 o’clock and I still haven’t called anyone back!” Do you check e-mail and facebook constantly but don’t start working on your project until the wee hours of the night? “Ugh, why did I waste so much time?” Do you find yourself watching television but still feel bored and uninspired? “But I don’t feel like doing anything else!”

I could go on with probing questions but I’ll stop here.

So where the heck does your and my time go?

To decoys. Plain and simple.

Huh? What is a decoy, you ask? A decoy is something that is used as a distraction to conceal something else, something that we overuse or over-do. For example, continuously checking e-mail, facebook or other social media sites, and eating because we “feel like it” or because we are bored are just a couple examples of activities that we use as decoys to avoid paying attention to what actually needs attending to. What needs attending to? Our emotions.

But we have learned to stay busy with decoys to avoid “feeling things”. Can you remember the advice you were given after a serious break-up? Work lots, go out drinking with friends, take up another hobby; anything to keep your mind off of what is really going on! This might sound like good advice, but it’s actually keeping you from doing exactly what you need to do, which is feeling your emotions. If we are not feeling our emotions, we are suppressing our emotions. And if we are suppressing our emotions we are that much closer to experiencing chronic pain. Emotional energy doesn’t just disappear. It will store in our bodies and create tension until we learn how to take the time to feel our emotions.

Are you wondering why I still experience decoys, since I am a mind-body coach?

Well, I am human, after all. So I will never ever be perfect. But luckily I’ve learned to catch on to my decoys! My most popular decoy now makes me laugh, even if I give in to it from time to time. Here it is: when I start thinking of all of the tasks I want to accomplish, I usually start to feel overwhelmed, and BAM, like clockwork, I have a seriously strong inclination to run to the kitchen and mow down whatever I can get my hands on! It’s hilarious! And sometimes I give in, and sometimes I don’t. But I now know what’s going on and why it happens, and awareness is the key to healing yourself! As soon as you become aware of your decoy, it loses a lot of its pull. And that goes for anything, for that matter. Awareness creates space which takes away the power!

So what are your decoys? If you experience chronic body pain, why not make a list of everything that you waste time doing? I guarantee you it’s a decoy! Then the next time you catch yourself engaging in that decoy just notice if anything feels different about it. If it does, you know you have created “space”. The space that starts to take away the decoy’s power. I invite you to take that time to ask yourself what you are feeling emotionally instead.

Another step forward on your pathway of healing.

Allowing Emotions

I’m writing this post after a short fit of crying, err, bawling. Bruce Springsteen and Chris Botti never seem to let me down. They always prove to be an excellent catalyst for releasing my emotions…

In my mind-body coach training course we are learning all about emotions and trauma. We shone a light on all of our past traumas by writing a list of the things that were stressful in our lives. After compiling a list of the stressful events I’ve experienced in my 26 years of living, I found out something quite surprising. I still carry a huge amount of emotion in my body from something that happened in my life 10 years ago! As I wrote down every single event about my mom and her battle with a brain tumour and eventually her defeat in the battle, I would immediately burst out in tears, even a few hyperventilating tears.

After 10 years of crying and releasing sadness here and there, I was surprised to find out how much emotion is still stored in my body from this time in my life.

I’m not beating myself up for storing so much sadness for 10 years. I’m actually thankful to now be aware of this, and now I can give myself the time to grieve over the loss of my mom 10 years ago.

When we don’t let our emotions flow in our body, we aren’t able to release our emotions from our body. So what happens to these emotions when they aren’t felt and released? Emotions are vibrational energy within our bodies and when they aren’t felt and released they are stuffed down and stored. They don’t just magically disappear just because we don’t want to feel them. They lodge into certain areas of our bodies, and if this is done repeatedly, over time this will create physical pain in our bodies. Enter stage right: interstitial cystitis, irritable bowel syndrome, fibromyalgia, migraines, or any kind of chronic pain.

I am pretty motivated to keep interstitial cystitis far away from my pelvic region from now on, so I am happy to now set aside time each day to feel some stuck emotion, and new emotion as well. There are many ways to do this, my favourite being listening to music that I feel strongly connected to. It does a fine job of opening up my emotional valve. Other ways you can access and allow those emotions that have been stuffed way down:

  • moving your body in any way (dancing, doing yoga, lightly working out, walking, stretching)
  • getting a massage
  • doing breathing exercises
  • spending time out in nature
  • journaling/writing without any editing

Now, take a moment to look at your life and the stressful events you may have gone through. Does a specific event or time in your life immediately resurface in your mind? If something does immediately resurface, it means that there is still some emotion that needs to be felt around this, and it is time to do so. Your body will never give you more than you can handle, so whatever resurfaces is supposed to resurface, and it’s ready to be felt. On the other hand, if nothing comes up, try some of the techniques listed above to start oiling your emotional valve. Trust me, and just do it; especially if you want to live a pain-free and fabulously energized life. Your body will thank you for it!

The Compass Within You

Have you ever wondered how you ended up where you are today? Well, most likely, you’ve ended up where you are because of the decisions, both big and small, you’ve made throughout your life. Big decisions like what you want to spend 40+ hours doing every week, who you want to spend the rest of your life with, whether you want to have kids or not, where you want to live, and small decisions like what you want to eat for breakfast, what you want to do on the weekend, what you want to wear, and who you want to hang out with this Saturday night.

How do you make your decisions? How do you know that you want to teach elementary school kids every Monday to Friday? How do you know whether you want to have 0, 1, 2, or 3 kids? How do you know that you want to eat Cheerios every morning?

If you stopped and counted how many decisions you were making each day I bet you’d be surprised as to how much deciding you are actually doing without even knowing it!

Did you know that many of us don’t even make our decisions based on what we actually want? Someone might tell us that we “should” or “shouldn’t” do this or that and we listen to them because we think that we will gain their love and approval by doing so. Unfortunately we often end up “off track” or “off route” in our lives when we make decisions based on others’ opinions rather than on our own.

So would you like to start making decisions based on what you truly want, desire, and yearn for? Would you like a tool that you can carry with you everywhere to help make your day-to-day decisions as well as your big decisions? What if I told you that tool lies within you, within your body? Like a compass for your life.

Before I even knew I had access to this powerful tool, I made decisions based on others’ views and opinions and what I thought I “should” do, “should” wear, “should” eat, etc. Basically, I made important decisions without even consulting myself! I now understand I chose to become a dental hygienist because I would make good money and gain society’s approval, in a nutshell! Little did I know I actually wanted nothing to do with drills and white lab coats, and I didn’t realize this until I learned how to listen to my own magical tool from within: my body compass. And, might I add, it’s a little remarkable to look back on my life and notice that I started to experience chronic pain at the very moment I started my dental hygiene education. But, who am I kidding, I know this isn’t a coincidence at all…

Did I mention that I’ve stopped hanging out with the drills and white lab coats everyday? 🙂

See, our body’s can talk to us a lot, but if we don’t know how to listen to them we aren’t able to hear their messages. My body was talking to me through irritable bowel syndrome and interstitial cystitis, I didn’t understand what important message my body was trying to tell me.

Umm…it was basically telling me to get the heck out of there. 🙂

Now that I have been taught how to listen to my body compass, I make most of my decisions based on what my body compass tells me. (I wanted to say ALL of my decisions, but I truly do forget sometimes. Hey, I’m human too!) I don’t care what people think I “should” or “shouldn’t” do, because I now know how important it is to live my life based on what I truly want. If you don’t do this, that’s when you develop chronic pain, like I did. Now that I’ve re-routed my life, both inside and out (my mind and my life), my pain has healed and I am spending my days feeling more fulfilled, happy, and comfortable in my body.

About two or so years ago I wanted to wake up full of energy and excited to start my day. That was my goal. That was more important to me above everything else. I didn’t experience this at the time. I wanted it. Now I can honestly say that I am experiencing this. Checking in with and listening to my body compass has been one of the most important tools in my journey of healing.

Are you ready to access this powerful tool within yourself so you can start making your own decisions and start on your pathway to healing? Click here to get started on your own healing journey!

Believe You Will…

Are you stuck knee-deep in pain right now? If you are, I know how you feel. I’ve been there. ‘Tis not fun! And I want to let you in on a little secret. Do not waste your time hanging out in health forums so you can learn about all those people who have lived with this or that condition for ump-teen years. It will NOT help you heal. In fact, that knot in your stomach that appears every time you log on to those forums is actually increasing your pain!

Bottom line: You can’t trust everything on the internet. Don’t waste your time believing wrong information.

When I was knee-deep in pain and desperately searching for “the” cure, or anything to ease my Interstitial Cystitis (IC) symptoms, I visited forums now and then. I would find forums for people with IC who were all there for the same reason – to find a tiny little shred of hope. Everyone was searching for hope, and no one was giving out any. Everyone was stuck and desperate, and reading posts about people who were stuck and desperate did NOT make me feel better. “If no one else is getting better, then how am I to?” I would think. So, did I find hope there? Nadda. I did, however, find out that I would have to cut out 50% of the foods I loved and stop exercising in order to lessen my symptoms of IC. Lessen, not get rid of, just lessen. And at the expense of cutting out caffeine and my favourite fruits. These forums made me believe I would have to modify my lifestyle in order to live a happier and less disruptive life with IC. Bleh! This made me feel worse, hopeless, and depressed.

Fast forward to my life now. Now what I know to be true: anything that makes you feel worse, hopeless, depressed, or anything like you’ve been tied to a chain link fence, is just not true. And I have first-hand evidence to back this up. I’m free of IC. Free of pain. And I drank tea and ate ketchup and pineapple throughout my healing process! Those anxiety-provoking forums told me I would have to live with IC, and not with tea, ketchup, and pineapple. Hmm. Talk about WRONG, WRONG, WRONG! Anything that gives you an awful feeling in your body is a hint that what you are thinking or believing or reading is NOT TRUE! I felt awful when I was reading these posts that told me I would have to live with it forever because it wasn’t true. My body knew this. My soul knew this. It wasn’t about the food, or the exercise, or taking medication that had anything to do with me getting better!! It was nothing about this stuff, and all about learning more about myself, my soul, my emotions, my body, and my thoughts. It was all about learning who I was, what I loved, what I hated, what I yearned for, what I was passionate about. It was all about me and me only. And doesn’t that feel great? Knowing that you have the power within yourself to get rid of your pain? You might need a little guidance to get there, but you can get there.

If you have pain, have you been believing or finding information on the internet that makes you feel trapped, alone, and depressed? Even if you’re not dealing with pain, is there someone in your life that is telling you something that feels icky? Is there something you are believing that makes you feel defeated? Identify the “thing” and then get excited because now you know that it holds no truth! There’s no point listening to any of that false information anymore! What’s more important than thinking you can’t, is thinking you can. If you believe you can get better, you will. If you believe you can accomplish something, you will. If you believe you are doing the right thing, you are.

Belief gives you that bit of hope you need to start on your own successful journey, whatever that journey may be.